With T's frequent travels to Los Angeles for work, he surely has his fair share of riding in cabs. Mike, a genuinely sincere, honest, and friendly man is now T's go-to cabbie. One day, Mike asked, "T, do you like Persian food?" And that was how Flame was recommended and introduced to us. Mike is of Persian (Iranian) descent and if he thinks Flame serves up good Persian cuisine, it has to be good. Oh yes, darn right he is. Flame is located at Persian Square, a small section along the larger street of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
|Sumac spice with flat bread|
We start off with a basket of flat bread that is light and thin, with just enough crisp on the surface so that the bread does shatter easily. A glass shaker of sumac spice is on every table, a quintessential spice with a slight tart flavor in Middle Eastern cooking. Despite its deep red color, it is light and not overpowering. One suggested way to enjoy sumac is by sprinkling it over the flat bread and butter.
|Ash reshteh Persian soup|
Part of the Iranian culture involves having a lot of food laid on the table. Many times the amount of food on the table will be more than what the people at the table can eat. Having plenty of food is a sign of generosity of the host and food is served family style with everyone sharing the main dishes in the middle of table. Food portions at Flame are generously huge and yes, there were a lot of food on our table.
The ash reshteh Persian soup is very hearty soup that is commonly consumed in Iran during winter time. In fact, it is so filling that you could have it as a meal during lunch but we ordered it to be shared among ourselves (we were a party of four). Prepared with a combination of vegetables, pinto beans, whey, garlic, and mint, the ash reshteh's richness and flavor will warm the heart. The barley soup with its lime flavor is perfectly well balanced with the savory taste of the chicken broth. I find the barley soup addictive; I love the strong hint of lime which is actually not overpowering because the chicken broth helps to neutralize it a little.
|Chelo kebab soltani (filet mignon and ground beef), adas polo rice|
If you can't decide what meat(s) to get for the kebab, the chelo kebab soltani comes with each a strip skewered meat of filet mignon and ground beef that is very well seasoned. The marinated and charbroiled whitefish is nicely charred and giving the fish a rustic look. Inside, the fish maintains its moistness. Every meat and seafood entree comes with a choice of rice or salad. A whole piece of charbroiled tomato that is plump and juicy also comes with each entree plate.
|Sabzi polo rice|
One of the ways to cook rice in Persian cuisine is polo which involves a combination of soaking the rice in salted water, boiling, and steaming. Considered a house specialty at Flame, various types of polo rice items are prepared with different ingredients. A favorite of our is the adas polo rice mixed with raisins, dates, lentils, and saffron. The sweetness from the raisins and dates makes the rice stand out when eating it with your seasoned meat. The sabzi polo rice is pure and light while allowing the subtle hints of cilantro, garlic, and green onion to shine. With rice that is only delicately flavored, the sabzi polo is perfect with the lamb shank and its plate of gravy goodness. You can expect the tender meat to easily fall off the bone.
An order of the bamieh for dessert comes with three small pieces which are enough to satisfy one's sweet cravings after a full meal. Deep fried dough are soaked in honey syrup so that the balls are thoroughly moist. If you're familiar with gulab jamun in Indian cuisine, bamieh is the Persian version.
Halfway through dinner with the restaurant bustling with diners, the lights are dimmed and music is played. A belly dancer shows off her dance moves and belly-moving skills, even with balancing an artificial sword on her head while dancing. Soon enough, the short entertainment ends and everyone goes back to feasting again.
Flame Persian Cuisine
442 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024